02-02-2007 06:31 PM - edited 02-02-2007 06:31 PM
Refine Your Résumé
Your new résumé should reflect the information you’ve learned about yourself through NCAS testing and Discover What You’re Best At. And an effective résumé is not just a laundry list of all your old jobs; it is a marketing tool that will pitch the full spectrum of your abilities to potential employers. There are three popular résumé models.
The Chronological résumé is the traditional form, listing each job held in reverse chronological order. It’s most effective when your previous job experience is directly related to the position you seek.
The Functional résumé summarizes professional skills and aptitudes and minimizes employment dates and job titles. It may begin with a summary statement about your unique aptitudes and skills.
The Combination résumé utilizes the best of the Chronological and Functional models by highlighting both aptitudes and employment history.
Ask yourself these questions as you review your résumé. If you answer "no" to these questions, you probably need to refine your résumé further.
- Does my résumé accurately reflect the skills and aptitudes I want to highlight?
- Does it make positive specific statements about what I have to offer an employer?
- Does it directly tie my skills and experience to the job I’ll be applying for?
Most prospective employers will likely get hundreds of résumés for each job opening they have, depending on the level of requirements. Therefore, getting your résumé and yourself noticed so that you can actually get in for an interview is perhaps the biggest obstacle to overcome.
A successful approach is to get noticed by your target company before they even have a job opening. This way, when the position that you are looking for becomes available, you are the first person they'll think of. This is where networking comes in. A network is simply a web of people having something in common, such as past or current work experience, business relationships, educational background, or nonprofit participation. These people know each other, call one another back, and follow through when someone is referred to them. Tapping into a network does not guarantee you a job, but you should at least be heard.
To get started, you need to talk with family members, friends, and acquaintances who work in your field of interest or in a related field. Ask them who they know in those fields who might have a few minutes to speak with you. Be sure to get full contact information, and then you'll be ready to extend this personal network by calling new people. Keep accurate records of your networking activity.
Once you get through to the decision-maker, you will have only a minute or two to convince her to listen to and help you. Your message should have three components:
- Your name, and who reffered you
- Your purpose for calling (to learn about job opportunities in your field -- not to ask for a job)
- A simple overview of your career goals and of interest.
The decision-maker’s reaction to you will depend on the strength of her connection to the referring person, her availability and willingness to help you, and the match between your career goals and her own experiences. Based on her reaction, you should have one of three goals in mind.
- If she is very receptive, ask for a short, 30-minute face-to-face meeting, and if she's not available, a second phone call.
- If she is moderately receptive, offer to call her back at a set time. She may simply be too busy to focus on your call, and another time would be better for her.
- If she is not overly receptive, or simply doesn't have much to offer, ask her for one or two names (and contact information!) of someone else who might be helpful.
Regardless of what you take away from this call, always stay positive, polite, and pleasant. And after your meeting, don't forget the thank you note! A printed and signed thank-you letter is rare in the world of email, but it will make you stand out, and will leave a lasting positive impression.
Once you are sitting with someone, you have set yourself apart from the other people competing for their time. There are several important things to do before, during, and after the interview to make it as successful as possible.
Before the Interview
- Confirm that you know how to get to the interview site.
- Plan to arrive 15 to 20 minutes early.
- Always dress professionally.
- Bring several copies of your résumé, a pen, paper, and a calendar.
- Pleasantly introduce yourself to the receptionist, if there is one, and strike up a conversation if this person is not busy.
During the Interview
- Simply tell your story. Whether you’re re-entering the job market, changing careers to take better advantage of your aptitudes, or simply looking for a new employer, be honest and accurate about yourself, and keep your story focused.
- Take opportunities to ask open-ended questions about your interviewer's career and current job.
- If job opportunities have not come up in the discussion, ask if the interviewer knows of positions available in his company or in other companies. Regardless of the answer, ask for two or three names of other people you might contact. Also ask when it might be appropriate for you to check back with him to see if positions have opened up.
After the Interview
- Promptly follow up with the decision-maker with a handwritten, or typed and printed thank-you letter, and acknowledge any specific help you received.
- Review any notes you took, and expand and clarify them for your records.
- Take stock of how the interview went. Repeat the things that worked and learn from the things that didn’t.
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Message Edited by BookClubEditor on 02-02-2007 06:31 PM